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Wednesday marked the 40th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh. It came out about a year into my tenure as a syndicated tech columnist, and even back then, I had seen a lot of new personal computers. But when Steve Jobs showed it to me weeks before the announcement, I was blown away.
I rarely get excited over a new computer. But Apple's Macintosh, officially introduced last Tuesday, has started a fever in Silicon Valley that's hard not to catch.
The original Mac, which cost $2,495 ($7,510 in today's dollars) was about 14 inches tall and took up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of 8 x 11 paper. Long before there were laptops, it was smaller and lighter than most of the so-called portable' machines. The entire system can be slipped into an optional ($99) padded carrying case to be hoisted over your shoulder or placed under an airline seat. What impressed me most was its graphical user interface, not unlike what we still have on today's Mac and Windows PCs.
The new Mac came with two valuable programs, MacPaint and MacWrite free with the machine, as I wrote in that original review. I was impressed that it let you vary the size and style of your type on the screen and on paper, when used with Apple's new $495 Image Writer printer, resulting in the first truly what you see is what you get word processing system on a moderately priced microcomputer.